- Fantastic design, small size and weight
- IP68 waterproof standard
- Exceptionally modern and fast processor
- Only slight Android 4.4.4 KitKat modifications
- Low display resolution
- High price
- Just average back-facing camera quality
- Battery could last longer
Quick TakeThe Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is one of the best Android mid-size tablets currently available, and probably the best 8-inch tablet in general. Still, it could have a better screen resolutions and a lower price.
The Z3 Tablet Compact is first Sony Xperia tablet with a display under 10 inches, and it sets a new standard for mid-size Android tablets.
The 8-inch device is impressive at first glance due to its exceptionally elegant dimensions, design, and light weight. And it’s even waterproof, according to the IP68 standard. Other manufacturers, including Apple, have yet to offer this combination of features. And it doesn’t stop there – this model also includes Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.5 GHz, with 3 GB of RAM for a snappy performance. Sony enriched Android 4.4.4 (KitKat), with a slightly modified user interface, and the storage capacity (either 16 GB or 32 GB) can be expanded with microSD cards.
Still, Sony has left room for improvement, and lags behind the competition in some regards. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact includes a lower screen resolution than other flagship tablets, and a back camera that’s inferior to the one found on Xperia phones. Also, the psuggested price is $499.99, well above what 8-inch tablets typically sell for. Still, the pros generally outweigh the cons when it comes to the tablet as a whole.
Build and Design
There are no doubts that the designs are the dealmakers of Sony’s Xperia devices, and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is no exception.
A weight of just 9.5 oz (270 grams) for an 8-inch tablet is unprecedented, and quite impressive when the tablet is held in hand. The device is 8.4 x 4.9 x 0.25 in (213 x 124 x 6.4 mm) and is the slimmest compact tablet from a premium manufacturer. It comes in white and black, and the white model is easy to misplace among papers, thanks to its design, dimensions, and mass.
It’s hard not to wonder: How can such a solid, compact, and resilient product be so light? There are several phablets on the market which, despite their smaller displays, are heavier than this Sony tablet. Even Apple’s iPad mini 3 is some 50 grams heavier and a millimeter thicker, even though its small size and light weight are two of its more significant selling points.
Although the weight means you can hold the tablet with one hand without straining yourself, you’re going to need both hands because of the 8-inch screen. Be that as it may, there is no more pleasant or beautiful compact tablet on the market.
The light weight has been achieved by using lighter materials. Thus, unlike the Xperia Z3 smartphone, this tablet’s back is plastic, not glass, but this doesn’t detract from the premium feeling. Its edges are aluminum and of a rather boxy design, but also with rounded corners which are less likely to be damaged if the tablet is dropped.
The tablet seems solid and convincing, and its IP68 waterproof standard largely contributes to a feeling of great reliability for the user and amounts to quite a comparative advantage over all of the competition.
In terms of specs, the display is one of the Z3 Tablet Compact’s weakest areas. Sony has included an 8-inch Triluminos display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels (i.e. WUXGA resolution) for a pixel density of 283 ppi. This is relatively poor for a tablet that costs as much as this one does. It’s made even worse when the tablet is compared the iPad mini 3’s 324 ppi on its 7.9-inch screen. However, users will only notice if they go from Apple’s compact directly to Sony’s, so using the Z3 Tablet Compact on its own won’t result in a negative experience.
Sony’s Triluminos technology is a logical choice, given that the manufacturer uses it for everything from mobile devices to TVs. Above all, it offers impressive colors, thus Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact offers highly vivid and saturated user interface imaging, making it seem futuristic, luxurious, and — what is even more important – of excellent quality. Still, the lackluster pixel density results in the imaging slightly ‘dissolving’ when viewed from a wider angle, meaning that the contrast lacks sustainability. However, this effect isn’t visible when the tablet’s viewed head-on.
Similarly, imaging sharpness cannot be criticized. It’s not the best, but individual pixels can only be identified with the naked eye if the user really tries to find them, or while animating straight sloped lines on highly contrasting video clips, or when scrolling letters and websites. This doesn’t reduce the overall positive impression for which richly saturated colors can be credited.
The contrast is significantly reduced in direct sunlight, but cranking up the brightness is sufficient for countering this problem.
The overall impression is that Sony has constructed the tablet’s display in order to make it good enough, but that’s it. Keep in mind, the battery is pretty small so the tablet could stay thin, so Sony had to go with a display that wouldn’t drain all the power too quickly. This is a rather clever call for most users.
Buttons and Ports
The front of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact includes a 2.2-megapixel camera placed above the display, next to the usual sensors, as well as the almost invisible stereo speakers ‘hidden away’ along the upper and lower side. The back features only the 8-megapixel camera, without a flash, as well as the Sony, Xperia, and NFC logos.
When the device is in the landscape position, the tablet’s lower side includes a docking connector a DualShock 4 controller in order to play PlayStation 4 games by using the Remote Play option. This is an exclusive feature that will make many Play Station users think about purchasing the Sony tablet. On one side of the connector, behind a protective cover, are the microSD and microSIM card slots (the second one is featured only on the LTE model), while the microUSB port is on the other side, also with a protective cover.
On the upper side of the device (i.e. the right side if it is held in the portrait position) is a 3.5 audio jack, the Power key is located in the middle, and it also features the volume rocker. The remaining two edges (left and right when the tablet is in the landscape position, i.e. upper and lower in the portrait position) have no slots.